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December 31, 2011

Bye bye, 2011.

Last day of the year already! 2011 was sure in a hurry. We seem to spend December either in India or in the US these last few years and I can get used to this tradition. Much fun is being had here. We came back from Tahoe and whaddayaknow, I enjoyed skiing and even got decently better at it. On the last day, sis, Ashu, Hd, Bil and I skied together and I loved it. Bil and Ashu were zooming past us every time. I can't believe she's the same timid girl I see in Zurich. Thanks to Bil, her confidence really soared.

Got back and soon bils bro, sil and their daughter, S left. Ashu was much saddened. They both had a blast together for 10 days. Made it up for not having the Utbt family here. Though I prepared the girls and told them not to ask for Chula and Meija, I had a lump in my throat when I came here and realized that they are nt going to be here this time. Sigh.

Met blog friend, Reva for the first time yesterday and was blown away. Was telling Hd that he can never ever ask me what use my blog is anymore after that scrumptious meal at her place. She's a master baker and that's an understatement. Lovely house, lovely family, awesome dinner and amazing dessert. Such cute gifts for the girls too. How can some people do it all? Thanks much, Reva. You are a sweet heart.

Non stop shopping and restaurant hopping happening here and at this rate, I'm going to look like a beached whale very soon. Hope 2012 knocks some sense into me. Happy new year, folks. Hope 2012 begins with a bang for everyone!

December 20, 2011

Location: Lake Tahoe.

Me: How could you do this to me? To your own little sister, that too! That Ski lesson was the one of the toughest thing I ve ever done!
Sis: How could you do this to me? You left Antu with me!
Me: Ok. We are even!

Yes, folks! Arrived to the US of A last week to spend the Christmas Holidays with Sis and Bil. And where do they take us? To Lake Tahoe for skiing! And Bil's brother's family have joined us too and they live in Colorado! I guess we were all destined to learn skiing in California, of all places! Im writing from a cozy cottage surrounded by mountains with a killer lake view. Its bliss. I only wish I dont have to go to the stupid Ski lesson tomorrow! Especially falling on my back and struggling like a cockroach in the beginner level while Ashu and kids even younger than her are zooming past in the intermediate level! Not fair!

More later, folks! Happy Holidays!

December 05, 2011

"What makes us so bitter against people who outwit us is that they think themselves cleverer than we are."

Ashu and her best friend G were asking each other some riddles and playing in the car. After a few rounds of this, G asks Ashu.

G: Im going to ask you a tricky riddle now, Ashu. Are you smart?
Ashu: Yes.
G: Ok. Are you very, very smart?
Ashu: hmm.... not really.

I dont know whether to be happy or sad! But I can say one thing. She is EXACTLY like her dad! These are the kinds of people who will not give us even an ounce of happiness when we win against them in any game/sport/debate/argument! Do you come across these annoying kinds? Theres no satisfaction in beating them in any game. Whats the whole point of playing, I ask? Take me, for example. Sis and I have never EVER finished a game of chess in all our life because every time she even came close to taking my queen, let alone the king, the board with all the pieces will magically fling themselves to the floor! There have been innumerable card games which have ended with me or my mom in tears. My sis or my dad swearing that they will never ever play with us ever again. And none of us are graceful winners either! Its a miracle how we did nt end up killing each other! But Ashu and Hd are the type of paavam characters with whom you dont mind losing. You even let them win sometimes because they are so paavam! Not that they are nt competitive but theres something in their demeanour. So graceful and sportive and I guess one has to be born with it and can never be learnt. I ve perfected the art of faking though. After 33 years and 2 kids, Im in a stage where I dont throw public tantrums! I said public!

Something tells me Antu is all me! And the thought terrifies me! *gulp*

November 27, 2011

The One in Which Ashu Loses Her First Tooth.

Just when I started to focus on Antu again, Ashu had to lose her first tooth and steal her thunder! The much awaited milestone arrived finally this weekend! Ashu has been really impatient the last one year seeing all her friends lose their teeth one by one and her's were nt even wobbly. Around 6 months back, she was thrilled to announce that one of her lower front tooth is teeny-weeny wobbly even though I could nt feel a thing. More like wishful thinking, I assumed. A couple of months back, I did see it wobble a bit and we were all eagerly waiting for the big day! Two days back I saw a new tooth sprouting behind the wobbly one and it looked really weird. By this time, the wobbly tooth was hanging by a thread so to speak and I asked Ashu if I can pull it. "No way!, she screamed. She wanted the tooth to fall while in school so that she can go to the nurse and get a cute little box to put it in. I wanted it to fall while shes home because I wanted to witness the grand event, of course! And finally when it did fall, it had to be on a Saturday while she was attending a birthday party and I was nt even there! A friend dropped her home after the party and Ashu was all excited to show something and while I was thinking that it was some cool return gift, it was her tooth! awww... I had to blink back tears. It does hit you, this losing the baby tooth business! sigh!

Before you ask what the tooth fairy gave her, let me answer you. The child does nt believe in fairies. I told her that she ll get a gift only if she believes in them but nothing could shake her resolve.

How do you know, Ashu? They may be real. Try putting the tooth under the pillow and see.
Amma! Its the parents who give the gift. Not the fairy! And I need the tooth. I want to take it to school on Monday.
You believe in Krishna, dont you?
Yes. But he is GOD. Not a fairy! Also I saw a tooth fairy book in the fiction section in the library. It means its not real!

Check and mate.

I found the box with the tooth safely tucked in her school bag. Decided to surprise her and put a CHF 5 coin in it. She found it this morning and came and thanked me. I told her thats an advance amount for all her teeth and she is nt getting any more money. "But Amma! The upper tooth is bigger. You need to give more money for it when it falls down." Holy guacamole! I need to plant a book on money in the fiction section right now!

November 23, 2011

About time I updated on Antu.

OK, lets talk about Antu. High time, right?

She is in this utterly-butterly cute stage. Loves life like crazy! Going to school is exciting. Eating breakfast is exciting. Going to the grocery shop to buy milk is exciting. Going to pick her sister up from school is even more exciting! Her enthusiasm is so infectious. Still very much a daddy's girl.

The other day we were going to her German playgroup and she told me that she does nt like her English preschool. She says she does nt like her German one when i drop her at the English one! So I told her,

You can like both, Antu.
No, Amma. I dont like English school.
You don't have to say you dont like that just because you like this, OK? Just you like both Amma and Appa, you can like both.
But I don't like Am....
I like only Appa!
(hurt voice) Why do you like appa so much, Antu?
Because I don't like you!

Its not enough to plunge the knife in my heart, she has to twist it too?

Her preschool had a Halloween party and little Missy chose her own costume by mixing and matching the pink party frock, tiara, etc... So of course I had to take photos and compare and contrast with Ashu's 3 year old photos. Here you go.

I don't know how she does it but exactly at 3 pm everyday she comes to me and says, "Lets go to Akka school and get her, Amma!" All this lurve only when shes out of sight. As soon as she comes home, its adithadi fight for every little thing! And Antu is such a kozhsolli.(tattletale) Akka did this, akka did that, akka said this, akka said that,... uff! Its just too much! I hear Ashu sometimes telling Antu, "You are such a silly goose, Antu! Now go tell this to Amma!" LOL!

At any point of time, you can see Antu surrounded by at least five books. Whenever I call her, the answer will be "Wait amma! I'm reading!" I don't know if shes just copying her sister or shes really interested! Reading means looking at pictures and pretend reading, of course.

She calls Emily Elizabeth from the Clifford book as Amily Alphabet! The other day we were all laughing at it and Ashu asked her very sarcastically, "Do you even know what an alphabet is, Antu?" And she says, "Yes. Letters!" I was shocked. So I asked her "And what are letters?" She gave me a look and said, "ABC, Amma!" and proceeded to sing the whole alphabet song! She can also count up to 100. Recognize all the alphabets. Knows the months, days of the week. Mostly thanks to Ashu who plays teacher, teacher with her and teaches her stuff!

Unlike the 3 year old Ashu, Antu has a rocking social life! I drag her everywhere with me. School meetings, lunch with friends, coffee mornings, school events, Ashu's violin class, dance practice sessions, ... and she loves all of it. She loves "dress-upping" and dancing and I'm looking for some class for her. May be from January.

I think she finally realized that I'm hurt or something as she keeps saying "I love you full-time, Amma!" these days! But never make the mistake of asking her whom she "likes" though! In spite of it, I love you full-time too, Antu. All the time!

November 21, 2011

All about Ashu.

Ashu had quite an eventful week with a Violin Recital and an Indian group Dance, both at her school! Remember how last year she danced for O Re Kanchi? It was a mix of "Mukunda, Mukunda" and "Radha kaise na jale" this time with one boy and 8 girls! We had less then a month, we could meet only once or twice a week and add to it, I was the only one choreographing and making the kids dance to my tune since my partner in crime from last year has moved out of Swiss! What an uphill task! It was so difficult to even fix a date when all of us were available. At one point, I just gave up and asked Ashu if she wants to dance alone or with Antu. She refused instantly and proclaimed, "group dance or no dance, Amma!" Sigh! The things we do for our kids! But once we managed to meet, things started working out. We took turns and practiced in each others houses and after a while, I even started to look forward to these things just for the yummy food and chai! I think I behaved more or less like a circus animal trainer! The moms loved me and the kids sort of warmed up to me towards the end. Much like stockholm syndrome, I guess! Everyone was admiring me for my immense patience with the kids and I felt like a fraud! Why is it so easy to be patient with other peoples kids? The d day was last Saturday and the kids did me proud! It was so cute to watch them do the moves and try to be in sync. Though the day before the dance was when Kolaveri went viral and I had an acute case of earworm and was *this* close to actually playing this song instead of Mukunda for the kids to dance. Not that they would have known the difference! ;)

Coming to the Violin recital, it all started a couple of months back. Ashu was stubborn that she wanted to learn the Violin. She kept asking us last year too and we thought she was too young and I did nt have the time or energy to cart her to yet another class! But when I learnt that theres a class she can take once a week in her school during lunch recess, I jumped at the chance. At least, I dont have to drive her around! One fine day, we took her to the store and rented a Violin. Thats where I learnt that there are actually different sizes in violins and one always rents Violins for kids. Ashu was a happy camper. We also bought her the recommended book and a stand. And of course I threatened Ashu with dire consequences if she did nt practice regularly just before we paid the huge amount! One can always dream! The classes started soon and she quite enjoyed them. After a few classes, I had no idea what she was doing so I decided to attend classes whenever I could along with her. So much for less driving around, huh? But that helps both of us. (Poor Antu though who has to sit still for 30 mins!) A month alter, the teacher informed us about the student recital which happens in November every year and asked Ashu to choose a song she wanted to play. She chose A Mozart Melody. (popularly known as Twinkle, Twinkle!) Poor little thing practiced it almost every day for a month! Of course, I had to be a Tiger Mom at times but then who am I kidding? It is who I am! The improvement you see is tremendous though. It amazes me what one can do with practice. (I am there with her in every class but theres no way I can read the notes like Ashu does.) The teacher was also going to make a group of kids play a few songs and Ashu was part of it. There was much excitement on the day of the recital. (last Tuesday) Choosing something formal to wear, shiny black shoes, cameras charged, proud parents in the front row, the works! Ashu played beautifully and the group recital was very cute too. Some of the middle school kids were amazing! Unbelievable talent! Wonder how many hours they practice every day! ;)

There is nothing to look forward to now and Im wondering what to do with all the extra time I seem to have since yesterday! Pay attention to my poor neglected second child, you say?

November 13, 2011

A Milestone I dreaded: The F Word.

Loads of friends have told me how their kids said the F word, how shocked they were, how the kids wanted to know the meaning of the word, how they were stumped, etc.. etc... etc... I kind of worried too but Ashu is a kind of kid who instinctively seems to know what will make me happy or upset and she ll avoid asking anything which she thinks will upset me or get her into trouble. Not always, I can assure. But mostly. So I knew I had a long time before I had to face that kind of a situation. But then, one can only dream!

Ashus best friend, G had come home today for lunch and we were all eating at the table. Antu with her "impeccable" table manners had to say "yuck" for God knows what and G immediately gasped, "Oh my God! Antu just said the F word!" I froze. "Its a bad word!", G added! I was speechless. I looked at Ashu who was looking at G curiously! "She said "yuck", G!", I mumbled. "Really? Do you know what the F word is?", she asked. "Forget me. How do YOU know?", I managed to ask. "Oh my sister told me. It is F***! Its a very bad word and we should never say it!". Very clear! "Thats right! Lets not say it then. Why don't we talk about butterflies? Or fairies? or Rainbows?" The girls started giggling and the situation was diffused. Phew.

Was that the end? Of course not. Come bedtime, Ashu asked me the dreaded question. "What is the meaning of the F word, Amma?" Sigh!

"Have you heard the word before, Ashu?"
Quite a defensive "No!"
"Its just a bad word, Ashu. And you will get into a lot of trouble if your teachers hear you say that, ok?"
"Is it a bad word like Stupid?"
"Its much, much worser that stupid."
"Is it a bad word like sissy?"
"What the F***!" (Ok, I did nt say that! But really!)
"Excuse me? Where do you hear words like these? Dont you guys have classes to attend while in school?"
"I heard it in recess, Amma! A called B a sissy because he said he likes pink!"
"Ok, Ashu! Thats another word you cant use, ok? Thats all Im saying!"
"I ll never use it Amma. I just want to know the meaning."
"We ll talk about it when you are a bit older, Ashu! How about two stories today, huh? Once upon a time..."

Im so making Hd handle it when its Antus turn. Which might even be tomorrow for all you know!

November 03, 2011

Ashu's Bookmark.

Q: How do you know when your child has graduated to reading chapter books?
A: When she makes something like the below bookmark!

Me: Ashu! You could have just placed a paper inside the page. Or any bookmark!

Ashu: But how will I know which page to continue reading from, Amma?

Keeping a bookmark on the page you finished reading and a note to remind you to go to the next page "without reading"! Im going to copyright it! There are books for Beginning Readers. But bookmarks? Height of Originality or what! Any buyers? :)

Though she is devouring the Rainbow Magic books these days, this bookmark was specially designed for Roald Dahl's "George's Marvelous Medicine"!

November 01, 2011

How clean is your house...

...when you leave in the morning to drop the kids in school? Im so curious to know. No prizes for guessing that my house looks like a pig sty (no exaggeration!) when I leave in the morning. Whoever said that theres a time and place for everything never had to do the school run, I guess! Toys everywhere! The kids room is a mess! The dining table looks like there was an explosion of cereal, bread and milk! There are clothes all over the bed! The kitchen looks as if an elephant had run rampant! (Not that my kitchen is big enough to fit an elephant!) And it drives me crazy! I hate coming back to a messy house but who has time to clean up in the morning when one is racing against the clock? The other day a friend invited me to her place impromptu after dropping the kids in school and I was amazed to see that her house was relatively clean! She does have older kids but still.... it hurt my ego! Theres no way in hell I can invite people just like that to my house. I would die!

Ashu wants to find her library book and a dozen books are in the floor. Antu drops the bowl and theres cereal everywhere. A wet towel here, a dirty jeans there, here a mess, there a mess, everywhere a mess, mess.... ARGH! Old Mc Donald is clearly not happy! Im wondering if some people employ house elves who clean up for them. This one day I had invited a mom and her child for a lunch playdate at my place after picking up Antu and the other child. And suddenly a coffee morning straight after Ashus school drop off came up too! So I had to get up, get the kids ready, make lunch, then take Ashu to school, go to the coffee thing at a friends place, then go to pick up Antu and come home with the other mom and the kid. Thankfully Hd was in town and he said he ll drop Antu and go to office. I begged him to clean up the house and leave it in a decent shape before he left the house. It was like a bomb ticking inside my head until I came home. And the man had kept his word, phew. May be its not a house elf I need after all, huh?! ;)

October 31, 2011

The Earrings, the Witch and the Pumpkin.

Diwali came and went. Halloween came and went. It has been non stop partying since last week! Ever since I became the member of PA in Ashus school, life has been so hectic! Hd is wondering why I dont get paid for the amount of work I do and most importantly, will the school pay gas money?! My partner and I organized the Trunk or Treat event for the school last evening and it was a blast! Around 60 cars in the school parking lot, each trunk decorated so spookily and at least 50 more families walked in with kids to trick or treat from car to car! Does nt it sound like fun? The weather was perfect and Ashu was so excited since it was her first time trick or treating! She was dressed as a witch, a costume borrowed from my friends daughter! Yes, Im cheap like that! I did nt dress up but loads of parents did and this one couple looked so cute dressed up as ketchup and mustard bottles and I heard the guy telling someone "my wife left me for a hot dog!" So funny! Though I could have told people I was dressed like a janitor for the amount of cleaning up I was doing there! And regulating traffic and taking umpteen kids to the bathroom because the key was with me! Though I did add a touch of halloween by wearing the below ear rings! My mom bought it for me from the US last year. Is n she cute?

And below is Ashu in her witchy self with her candy loot!

And the jack o lantern Hd carved this year. The man is improving, huh?

October 28, 2011

Jucker Farm.

Last Sunday, we took the kids to Jucker Farm. The day was bright and sunny, just the kind of day to go to a pumpkin farm! It was pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! Pumpkin sculptures, pumpkin houses, lanes lined with pumpkins, the prize winning pumpkins,... Total pumpkin heaven! The farm had rows of apple and cherry trees and in Summer, they have strawberry and raspberry picking too! We took in the sights, went on a horse carriage ride around the farm, picked apples, sat on the hammocks and rocked, sat on the benches with the gorgeous lake view and drank Sussmost,... For lunch, we ate Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, raclette with pumpkin and pumpkin brownies!!! Can you beat that?

Here are some photos.

1. Swiss Army Knife.

2. Odd one out?

3. All kinds, shapes and colours!

4. Orange is the colour of the season.

5. Pumpkin seats.

6. Picking flowers.

7. Bliss!

8. The first prize winning pumpkin weighed 701 kilos!!!

9. Pumpkin Art.

10. House made of pumpkins.

October 22, 2011

Cappadocia & Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkey was never in my must-visit list while HD has been planning a trip there for the past 4 years. This summer before I returned back from India, he went ahead and booked tickets for us for the October break. Although I love to see new places, I am not a happy traveler. So I kind of resigned to the fact and started researching the place, buying books, booking hotels, etc... But nothing I did made me prepare for the fantastic place that Turkey turned out to be. I fell head over heels with the landscape of Cappadocia, could nt get enough of the crazy city that Istanbul is, did nt want to check out at all from the interesting places we stayed and went crazy shopping! Sometimes its good to be proven wrong. I said sometimes, OK?

Day 1:

Leave Zurich. Land in Istanbul early evening. Run from pillar to post to get an entry visa. (All of us had a valid US visa which entitles us to get an entry visa.) There was a separate counter miles away in a dark corner where visas are issued for Indian passport holders. So if you are going, don't stand in the regular line and the counter accepts only cash in US dollars or Euros. Then we walked to the domestic terminal and caught our flight to Keyseri. A shuttle bus from the hotel met us in the airport and it took an hours drive to reach the town of Goreme where our hotel was! And what a hotel it turned out to be. We knew it was a cave hotel when we booked but who knew it was an actual cave! Since it was close to midnight and it was raining cats & dogs, we just crashed.

Day 2:

The volcanoes which erupted some 10 million years ago have given a unique landscape to Cappadocia. (The land of wild horses.) The whole place looks like its made of sand dunes except that they are rocks. They are called Fairy Chimneys and in ancient days, they were converted into churches and monasteries and a place to store food. They are mostly hotels now! Our room(!) had four levels. Few steps down to a small room with twin beds. A dangerous wooden ladder up to a huge room with low seating around the three walls, musical instruments (drums and ouds) in one wall, loads of small windows and holes with a view to die for, another set of steps to a small sit out with a single bed, guns and swords in one corner and daggers on the wall, then a few steep steps(lined with pots) to the bedroom with a double bed, a corner desk and a bathroom. The sink and the WC was quite jarring in this set up, I must tell you. I was half expecting a hole in the floor!!! The entire decor was so rustic! Plain white curtains on the windows on a rope held up by pegs, a big, torn, metal sieve as lamp shade, rusty daggers and swords on the wall, round port hole like windows here and there on the wall, nooks and shelves carved out of the rock wall, old paintings, broken vases, visible electrical wires from here to there, hand made sheets,... Amazing place! There were no doors except for the main door. The kids were using the place like a jungle gym climbing here and there.

After a hearty breakfast of Turkish pancakes (it was like stuffed naan), we half-heartedly left our cave, rented a beaten down car from the hotel and explored the Goreme open air museum, rode a camel, ate lunch, shopped, drove around the colorful Devrent valley, passed Pasabagi and saw the mushroom shaped fairy chimneys and then came back to the hotel where the cook had prepared a wonderful vegetarian meal for us. The kids were ecstatic to be back in the hotel room and more exploring happened by banging the drums! "This place is better than Disneyland, Amma", exclaimed Ashu. "Much, much cheaper too", I added! :)

Day 3:

We joined a tour (Yama tours, FYI. And yet we lived to tell the tale! :) There were ten of us in total (three young girls from Singapore and three old Turkish ladies) with the driver and a guide. We did the south Cappadocia tour from 9.30 am to 6 pm. They took us to the Derinkuyu Underground City first. It was simply wow! Its the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. Almost 100 feet deep with 11 levels. We went down eight levels and it was like a maze. If the lights went out, that's it! That would be the end ofus! Even with the light, I would nt know how to find the exit without the guide! Most of the places, we had to bend and walk. The kids had no problem though! This was like another game for them! I got claustrophobic in exactly 10 mins and just wanted to get out. But had to bear it for an hour! And can you imagine more than 10,000 people living here between the 5th and 10th century for more than three months during war time? And we only got to see 10% of the city. The mind boggles!

From there, we drove to the Ihlara valley. This was a part I was unsure about since this involves climbing down 360 knee breaking steps, then a 3.5 km walk on a rough terrain alo
ng the river to a restaurant in Bellisirma where lunch has been arranged for us and that's where our bus will meet us. And it was past noon already and we had a little problem called Antu in our hands. But God bless her, she was a total sport and God bless Hd who walked with her the entire time leaving me and Ashu to enjoy the breathtaking views peacefully. Also to be blessed are gummy bears, caramelized almonds, chocolate chip cookies and the good weather! After a nice lunch and trying to understand the old ladies who spoke no English, (they either asked how old Antu was or wanted to buy her from us, I'm not sure! ) we got into the bus and drove to Selime to see a Monastery. Hd took one look at the dangerously, steep climb and wisely decided to sit near the entrance with Antu and the three old ladies. Ashu and I climbed up with the rest. It was like rock climbing! After seeing the narrow paths in the underground city and the steep rock climbing here, I'm thinking that there is no way there were any fat people in the 10th century here! The views were amazing from the top. Then we drove back to Goreme stopping briefly at the Pigeon Valley. Hd bought some pancakes to go and we checked out of the hotel and got a ride back to the airport from where we took a plane to Istanbul. As usual, we checked in our hotel close to midnight.

Day 4:

Back to civilization. This hotel was the opposite to the Goreme one. Spacious, classy, nicely done, a sofa bed for Ashu and a baby cot for Antu, room service, TV(!),... the works! And after the glorious weather in Cappadocia for the past 2 days, it was wet,wet,wet in Istanbul! It rained non stop the entire day. After a long and elaborate breakfast, we reluctantly stepped outside in the rain and were shocked at how cold it was! Even though four different people had asked us to take a taxi from the hotel to the Sultanahmet area, we tried to take the public transport, gave up after half an hour and took a taxi! Istanbul looked like any Indian city. Including the traffic! We walked around Sultanahmet, gasped at the long line in the pouring rain outside the Ayasofya museum and quickly ran inside the Blue Mosque instead. It was closed and entry was nt for another two hours! We walked around the shops and found an Indian restaurant for lunch. Antu went to sleep in a while so we took a taxi back to the hotel.(after bargaining with the driver!) Late evening, we walked around the Beyoglu area where there were shops, shops and more shops. Ate Turkish pizza and sandwiches in a small restaurant. I drank gallons of Ayran (buttermilk) everywhere! Just yum!

Day 5:

Today we decided to actually see something and walked out after breakfast to catch a taxi! And whaddayaknow? It was the Sunday of the Eurasia Marathon in Istanbul (the only marathon in the world which includes two continents!!) and the entire Sultanahmet area and the connecting bridge were out of bounds for cars and trams! So we walked and walked for an hour in the bitter rain there. We never could take the stroller for Antu because we forgot to take the rain cover for it! She walked mostly and Hd and I (OK, mostly HD. Fine, he did all the time!) carried her the rest of the time. We ran to straight to the Ayasofya (the Church turned Mosque turned Museum) and stood in the long line munching hot, steamed corn! The line moved quickly and we were inside in no time! The interior was breathtaking! I could nt get enough of the magnificent dome and the mosaics and went camera crazy! We spent close to 2 hours there and went out for lunch.

It was Destination: Blue Mosque after a full stomach! Long lines here too but it was nt a long wait. Ashu read the Dos and Donts listed there and wore her scarf over her head and kept it like that until we got back to Zurich! Talk about Rules Ramanujam! The interior was breathtaking here too and I sprained my neck soaking in the beauty of the domes! It was prayer time soon enough and we were asked to leave. It was still raining but the trams started running! So we took a tram and then a funicular back to the hotel. We had cracked the public transport system by now! After recharging in the hotel room, we stepped out for dinner. A nice dessert place beckoned and we decided to make a meal out of it! Amongst us, we devoured a crepe with sugar, a crepe with peanut butter(!), waffle pizza (waffle coated with chocolate sauce and topped with strawberries, kiwi, apples & bananas! Sinful!), strawberry frappe and a pancake with vanilla ice cream! I'm not telling who ate what, got it?

Day 6:

Thankfully, it did nt rain this day! For once, I could take photos of the kids in Istanbul without their jacket hoods! We went straight to the Topkapi Palace! This was the highlight of the Istanbul trip for me! The huge palace is mind blowing! In one of the rooms, the entire wall, window panels and the doors of the cupboards are completely inlayed with mother of pearl. In another room, there are floor to ceiling rare blue tiles with little fountains in each window and beautiful stained glass windows. (Its the circumcision room, if you want to know!) The courtyard and the terrace and the pool and the view of the Marmara sea from the top,... I could go on! And the Imperial Treasury! Oh. My. God. Where do I begin? The spoonmaker's Diamond? (86 carats. pearl shaped. surrounded by 49 smaller (yeah right!) diamonds. Fourth largest in the world.) The Topkapi Dagger? (The golden hilt has three large emeralds and a golden watch with an emerald lid!) The golden candleholders? (which were taller than me each weighing 48 kg in GOLD and decorated with 6000 diamonds!) Or the Privy chamber? (which houses the staff Moses used and a clay foot print of the Prophet Mohammed among many other things!!!!) One has to buy a separate ticket for entry to the *ahem* Harem and it was totally worth it! Don't tell my grandma I said this but if one had to be a concubine, one had to have lived in that era! That's all I'm saying! We had a ridiculously expensive lunch in the restaurant inside. But then we were surrounded by history so I'm not complaining!

From here, we walked to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest markets in the world! Think Ranganathan Street in Madras and multiply it by hundred! Both my camera battery and Hds phone battery died right about now so good that we were nt tempted to leave the kids hands and take photos instead! I'm sure the Turkey Paatis from Cappadocia would ve put a stall right there with "For Sale" signs on them!! We walked for an hour in circles, bargained for cheap handbags, fainted at the price of the original looking but fake brand items, wowed at the gold jewellery and bought the kids magnets and dolls and costumes. We had just enough money for a cheap dinner by the time we came out! The kids had pasta and we had falafel wrap. And Ayran, of course!

Day 7:

Our last day. We had to leave for the airport at 2.30 pm and the hotel agreed for a late check out. It was nt raining this day either and Hd suggested the Bosphorous cruise (it takes one to both the Asian side and the European side). But we did nt time it properly and decided to let go. I got a super haircut instead so I was a happy camper! (Are you thinking beauty parlor on a vacation? That's Turkey for you! And I went from super expensive Swiss!) We walked around the Eminonu area and had lunch at a place near the hotel and rushed back to pick our stuff and get a taxi to the airport. It was 9.15 pm when we came back home. Ashu immediately made a card which said "Welcome Back" and stuck it on her room door and kept marveling at it!

* Ashu counted 66 cats in the streets of Istanbul.
* The kids did nt fuss at all about food.
* Every day Ashu ate corn flakes with milk, a piece of toast with nutella, a hard boiled egg and a glass of warm milk for breakfast. I don't know this girl!
* Not that they ate everything in the restaurants but they surely did try everything.
* Cappadocia is not at all stroller friendly and I would nt advise parents to take kids below 3.
* The 2 days in Cappadocia, we saw only 2 other tourist kids! Both girls and around the same age as Ashu & Antu.
* Hot air ballooning is very popular in the Cappadocia region. But not suitable for kids under eight.
* Istanbul has lots to offer kids.
* Ashu: "Did you know the Sultan had 300 wives, Appa? But its not allowed now!"
* Things are cheaper outside Grand Bazaar.
* The Turks are the most helpful people.
* The hotel staff bent backwards to help us with anything.
* The sweets! The baklavas were to die for!
* The place you read about before a trip and the place you actually see and then reading about it after you come back! Im amazed how different they are!
* I am so going back!

October 12, 2011

The Sound of Music.

Last weekend we decided to show Sis a typical Swiss outdoorsy day out! When a friend suggested we do a child friendly hike, we jumped on the offer. Since we did Elm recently, we knew Antu was ready! This time we went to a place called Alt St.Johann in Toggenburg which is 1 1/2 hours drive from Zurich. We parked the car there and bought our cable car tickets. We took the cable car up to Sellamat. And the Klangweg (Sound Trail) begins here. There are around 23 different musical stations along the way. There are things for the kids to bang, clang, hit... and they get to experience different sounds from stone, wood, bells,etc... The kids looked forward to the next sound station which kept them motivated to walk and the whole experience was fantastic. I loved it. We began the trail thinking that we ll take the cable car half way through but ended up doing the whole (approx. 6.5 km) trail which took us a good six hours including a long lunch break and the various photo sessions.

It helped that most of the trail was down hill. The views were breathtaking and it was a warm and bright day to boot. A pleasant surprise for October! Ashu had company with the friends little girl, so she was set. It was so cute to watch them walk hand in hand. Antu was a good sport walking the first half and sleeping in her stroller in the second half. The trail for the most part was stroller friendly which was a relief. We had lunch in a restaurant at Iltios which had a huge outdoor play area with trampolines, swings and slides and also had more music stations where the kids banged and clanged some more!

From Iltios, we walked and walked to get to Oberdorf from where we took the cable car down to Wildhaus. We were lucky to have reached the place before they closed! We would have been totally stranded if we had nt taken that last cable car! From Wildhaus, we had to take a bus back to Alp St.Johann. The bus ride was around 15 minutes. Quite an exhausting but a fulfilling day! The temperature dipped down to single digit after that lovely weekend so it was a perfect way to end what seemed like an extended summer this year! Ski slopes! Here we come! Rather, here we bring Ashu! :)

October 10, 2011

Little Miss Responsible.

First grade is serious business and Ashu gets home work these days. She gets it every other week and it seems like a family project! I ll never understand why Im paying good money to school when I have to do all the work! *rolls eyes* Anyway, these "projects" have become the bane of my life now and Ashu and I are at loggerheads every time she brings work home. The first time she had to do a collage and little miss decided she wanted a zillion photos to be printed which I refused. Another time, she had the brilliant idea to list 36 household items and illustrate them all on her own! When I tried to explain to her that it might take hours and she did nt have that much time and to shorten her list, she got very upset and stomped off. I decided not to interfere anymore and mumbled "whatever" and went about my work. This was after dinner, so I got Antu ready for bed, brushed her teeth, read her a book, etc.... All this while, Ashu was cooling off in her room. A few minutes later she came to me as if nothing happened and asked if we can continue the home work. (She needed help with the spellings, thats all!) So we both sat together and worked peacefully for 30 mins. It was past her bed time so I asked her to take a break, brush her teeth and go to bed and that she can continue the rest the next day. She said, "But I ve already brushed my teeth, Amma!" I was surprised! "When?", I asked her. "Remember when I got angry and went away? I actually went and brushed my teeth.", she answered! I wish every tantrum the girls throw are as responsible as this one! Including mine! :)

October 09, 2011


An important news - my sister is here! Im writing this so late. Shes actually leaving to the US tomorrow. She had work in Germany and of course, she has to land in Zurich and leave form Zurich even if she has work in Timbuktu let alone Europe! She arrived two weeks back, left for Germany the very next day and then came home for the weekend. Left on Monday again and came back mid week! It has been super fun. We managed to squeeze shopping, ladies night out, pizza dinner, potluck lunch, trekking, parks, play areas, school runs and more in the short duration. Ashu, needless to say, is glued to her all the time and was planning to take her to the play park (where my sister fell and fractured her ankle last time) so that she ll fracture her leg again and wont leave to the US tomorrow! And oh! Whats a visit without a surprise! I had nt told Ashu and Antu that she was coming. Ashu was thinking that my cousin S was coming and we baked a carrot cake and wrote "Welcome" on it. When Sis walked in, Ashu saw her, became speechless, ran to her and hugged her tightly and would nt leave her for ten whole minutes! We all could hear her heart beating! Antu was asleep then. Half hour later, she got up, saw my sis and acted as if my sister has always been living with us! Surprises are so beneath her, you see! *rolls eyes*

September 30, 2011

Violence Against Women Awareness Month.

Similar to the CSA Awareness Month, October is going to be Violence Against Women Awareness Month.

Heres what the core team has to say about it:

We know the subject is very wide and includes multiple aspects. To ensure that this awareness campaign is
effective, we have limited our scope to the following aspects:

1. Domestic violence – physical violence by husband/partner, other family members etc
2. Violence against girl child – including deprivation
3. Sexual violence – including marital rape, date rape
4. Emotional/psychological abuse
5. Dowry-related violence – including bride burning
6. Female infanticide
7. Acid attacks

We invite you to support and strengthen VAWM Oct 2011 as only you can. You can...

Keep up with our blog.

Write about it and send your blog post links or writeups to vawawareness at gmail dot com
(confidentiality and anonymity respected, as always).

Tweet about it – don't forget to add!/VAWMonth .

Join in the Facebook discussions.

Show your support with the badge.

It's the season that celebrates the power of women. Come join in our Stree Shakti special posts.

September 05, 2011

The One in Which Ashu Reads to Antu.

Right from the minute your child starts recognizing alphabets, you are waiting for that awesome moment when your child starts reading books. "Will she be an early reader or late reader? Will she be interested in books at all? How is she doing compared to her peers in India? Will she be like a certain gifted child who goes through books like we go through tissues in this house? Will she retain what she reads?" Dont tell me you never thought along those lines! It cant be just me! And when the said child is nearing 6 and is nt memorizing the Encyclopedia like you wanted her to, you tell yourself, "Well! Whats the big deal! When they are older, they are all going to end up reading and discussing the same teen fiction crap anyway!" What? Thats just me?

Coming to the point, Ashus reading hit an all time high a month back. I think the two month summer vacation did some magic. She was found reading all the time. Begged for "just one more book" before bed time, she not only read the reading book her teacher sent home, she read the note the teacher sent for the parents as well. (And she actually read "read" as "red" when it was used in past tense! I was amazed!) And just when I heaved a sigh of relief and was wondering when to introduce Harry Potter to her, something unexpected happened.

I sent Antu to bed around 7.30 pm today because she had nt napped in the afternoon and was very sleepy. Ashu was sitting next to me on the couch and what else but reading! I heard Antu calling Ashu and told Ashu to go check on her and come back. Then I got busy in the kitchen and around 8 pm, went to check on the kids thinking that Ashu also went to sleep. And what do I see? This.

Antu asked Ashu to read to her, it seems. So she brought the table lamp from the other room, plugged it in their bedroom, kept the lamp on the bed and reading to her quietly! I think the day she starts reading with a flashlight under the blanket is nt far away!

August 23, 2011


This Sunday, we drove to a place called Elm which is a little over an hours drive from Zurich. I found out that that place has a kids friendly hike and made up my mind to put Antu to walk. It was also mentioned that the trail was stroller friendly so we took ours anyway. We parked at the Gondola (cable car) station and took the Gondola to go up. There was a nice play area up with trampoline, jungle gym, sand pit, swing, slide, a gold digging activity in the sand, etc.... The location was just breathtaking! The huge swing was just at the edge of the cliff and it was amazing to see the kids swing back and forth with a view to kill! One of the mountain peaks has a small hole and twice a year, when the sun sets, the light shines through this hole directly into a church, it seems! The kids had a blast in the play area but it was terribly hot. We had a sphagetti lunch at the restaurant there and started walking towards Tierliweg, the kid friendly trail.

Cows welcomed us and the noise of the cow bells were really deafening! Most of the walk was through the woods so we were nt roasted in the sun. And whenever the trees parted, the views were spectacular! The trail was too rocky to push the stroller with Antu so she was replaced with our backpack on the stroller. I guess they mean that the trail was friendly for mountain-friendly-strollers and not our "sort by price and choose the cheapest" stroller! Little Miss Antu walked the entire 1 1/2 hours without any complaint! The only reason being that there were wooden animal sculptures every 200 metres or so and that kept motivating the kids to keep walking! It was wonderful to see Ashu and Antu spotting the animals first and shouting excitedly, Ashu making me write a list of all the animals (more than 20), guessing what the next animal will be, debating if the animal was a pig or a bear(!), etc... etc... Not to mention the jokes. Like I suddenly screamed, "Look a Gorilla!" and when Ashu excitedly looked, I was pointing at her dad! She was nt thrilled, if you want to know!

I don't know whats with Hd and pushing stuff off the mountain slopes. This one time, he let his sledge go on its own and I had to hike back while he went doubles with Ashu on the second sledge! Another time, the canopy on the stroller slipped and flew down the slopes. This time, he was coming behind us with the stroller and the backpack and suddenly he says "pudi, pudi!" and what do we see? The stroller and the backpack are flying down the slope!! Thankfully, it hit a rock and stopped and he ran to get them! I was thanking the Lord that Antu was not on the stroller and at the same time rolling on the floor laughing thinking what hes going to push the next time! If ever Kamal Hassan remakes Guna, I think HD ll make a good body double for him in the last scene when he jumps off a cliff! I would love to watch that! Now thats a happy ending! Abirami, Abirami! (Sorry cant quote Guna without saying Abirami, Abirami! Can you?)

After a well deserved ice cream, we decided to go down to the car park. And thats when the adventure began. One can either take the Gondola back or rent something called Trottinett which is a Mountain Scooter and go down 5 kms. Me being me, of course I wanted to ride the Trotti while Hd and the kids took the gondola. I was riding like the wind soaking in the amazing views and wondering if I should have brought Ashu with me since the Trotti guy said we can ride with kids when I braked the front wheel instead of back and next second, I hit the gravelly ground hard on my chest. My right elbow and both my palms were totally scraped! Bloody, dusty mess I was! Shirt torn, hand bag torn! I should ve been quite a sight for sore eyes! But I managed to get up and continue the rest of the way in spite of my bloody palms. Hd who was waiting downhill armed with a camera took one look at me and was horrified! Thankfully, everything was just surface wounds and nothing deep and no broken bones. Phew.

Whats life without a little adventure, huh? So what if I could nt hold the tooth brush the next day or that I had an important school meeting to attend the next morning and shaking hands with a few people was just cruel? It was totally worth it! :)

August 21, 2011

Radha Krishna!

My mom is a major Krishna Bakthai. This time in India, she gave me all the jewellery she had bought for the kids and asked me to dress them up. Once they were dressed, she took them to everyones house in our street and flaunted them. They came home with arai dozen Marie biscuits! On that note, Happy Krishna Jayanthi/Gokulashtami/Janmashtami everyone!

August 20, 2011

Another First Day.

It was Ashu's first day of first grade on Tuesday. All four of her best friends including G are in the same class and seeing the class list, I was more relieved than Ashu! I have a good relationship with those girls' moms and its nice to see that I don't have to make new friends at this age! ;)

August 12, 2011

Little Miss Attitude.

Antu: Amma Chota Bheem is my favorite.
Me: Ok.
Antu: The princess and the moon is my favorite in Chota Bheem.
Me: Great!
Antu: Akka's favorite is the super hero one.
Me: Ok.
Antu: Whats is your favorite, Amma?
Me: I dont have a favorite.
Antu: What is your favorite?
Me: I dont have a favorite, Antu because I dont like Chota Bheem. It is the silliest show ever and I regret the day I bought the DVDs.
Antu: You only like Cricket, Amma? (She still remembers the IPL days, I guess!)
Me: Yes. I like Cricket.
Antu: And I like Chota Bheem.
Me: !!!

You should have been there to see the look in her face and the attitude and the way she turned her back to me and walked away after saying that! God! I thought only Ashu will leave me speechless with her profound questions and answers!

So we are back safe and sound back in Zurich. Came 10 days back actually but feels like forever! Ashu's school has nt reopened yet so we are enjoying the Swiss Summer which is rain mostly! The flight back was as uneventful as it could be. The kids slept most of the duration, I watched Rio (such a cute movie!) and also slept like a good girl instead of watching five back to back movies like I did the last time. The husband came AN HOUR late to the airport because of some accident in the Autobahn! That was the toughest hour of the trip. I hate it when I cant see a familiar face when I come out of the airport. Ashu who never asked for her dad even once the entire 4 weeks ran like a wind and hugged him and would nt let go when she saw him. Antu who had been asking where Appa is and when we can go to Zurich at least a dozen times everyday saw him, started sucking a finger and looked down! I, of course, ran over his feet with the heavy trolley and walked towards our car!

July 22, 2011

Notes from a Small Town.

The one good thing about my parents living in a small town is that Im totally relaxed. I am taking laziness to an all new level. Like in Madras, no mad shopping to do hunting for that perfect short kurta, no restaurant hopping looking for that elusive Schezwan fried rice, no beaches, no visits to the dentist,... Im not even moving my behind to go to any of the temples for which this town is famous for. Only one quick visit was done to Govindapuram the day before the Kumbabhishekam.

I signed up Ashu for a 10 day swimming camp in a hotel pool nearby. Never in a million years would I have thought that my daughter will learn swimming in Kumbakonam of all places!! Unfortunately I took my dad along for the first class and seeing her splutter and pant, he took the coach aside (Im not sure if he bribed him! Hes capable of it!) and told him to teach her swimming with her head above the water! sigh. The even more sad part is that the coach agreed and now after the last lesson, Ashu is swimming exactly like how our Labrador (God bless her soul!) used to when she fell on the Kodaikanal lake!

I hardly come online or talk on the phone. My mom and dad take care of the girls. If Im really tired watching TV or looking at the ceiling (during the power cut), I play judge to the Pallankuzhi match between my 96 year old grandma and 6 year old daughter. My happiness cant be measured when Ashu makes her move after she counts the Sozhis discreetly so that she can pothufy Kaasi or take a muthu. I can proudly say that she has become the member of the Secret Society of Pallankuzhi! Antu is having her own fun upturning the heavy wooden board and scattering the Sozhis everywhere. Some (read Sis!) might say that Antu is following my footsteps but for the record, I did it only when I lost a game, mind it!

If you think at 96, my grandma is the oldest in the family, you are wrong. My grand uncle turned 100 (One Hundred!) recently and he lives with my uncle and aunt next door. Ashu and Antu visited him as usual and he remembered their visit 6 months back and said, "The little one will come to me. Shes not shy like the older one!" Gotta give it to the old man! Sharp as a cookie even though hes very weak physically. The irony is that every time we visit home, my mom or my grandma will insist that we go visit him as soon as possible because "God knows when what will happen? Seekram poi paathutu vandhudu". This has been going on for the past 10 years and its really hilarious that this dialogue is coming from my 96-not-out grandma. Poor thing used to wipe her tears and say, "May be I wont be here the next time you visit. Take care of the kids"! But even she thought enough is enough and during my last trip declared, "May be Im not going anywhere until I see Ashu getting married! So see you next time!" Hope to God I have the same sense of humor when Im old. (Not that old, please God!)

I dont know why but I sense that my parents are very proud that we live in Switzerland and I cant explain why but Im most reluctant to tell near strangers where I live. Ashu being the girl she is hardly ever strikes a conversation with strangers and even if she does, she ll only answer to Yes or No questions. Antu being small, people hardly direct their questions at her and even when she says "I live in Zurich", people assume she said Zoo and give me a weird look! So that only leaves my mother! While on the train, I went to the loo for like 30 seconds and my mom had introduced her grand daughters to half the compartment and maamas and maamis are asking me how I manage in the snow! One gentleman is asking ashu what her name is in German(!) and another lady is asking me if I get Murungaikaai there! Some people dont even know where Swiss is (Adhu enna? Newzealand pakkathula irukko?) and I have to tell them that it is near London! (My apologies to the Swiss!)

I dont know how my parents did it when we were kids but watching TV with Ashu is like Chinese torture. It does nt help that she has nt watched a full length Hindi or Tamil movie. Or a non-kiddy English film for that matter. It feels like a different Ashu is unleashed when I watch a Tamil movie and she catches a few scenes. "Why is that baby crying? Why is the mom leaving the baby and going to fight a war? Why is she crying now? So what if she came to know she is adopted? She has a mom and dad, right? Why does she care about her real mom who left her?" All this for a two minutes scene from Kannathil Muthamittaal. As if this is nt enough, there was a scene where Maddy and Iduppazhagi are hugging and the Akka character stops them. "Why cant they hug? Why is she stopping them? So what if they are nt married? So why dont they get married? Why should they ask the dads permission? Why dont they just get married and surprise him?" This from a girl who still informs me that shes going to the bathroom before she does! God save me! And here we were my sis and I as kids suffering through rape scenes, kissing scenes, hugging scenes, near rape before the hero saves his sister scene, rape after which the girl marries the rapist and lives happily ever after scenes, rape followed by suicide scenes, rape followed by murder scenes, MGR duet songs, Moods advertisement, etc... etc... etc... without batting an eyelid and without a peep! And in those days, parents could nt even change channels like we can today because there was only one channel to watch and most importantly there was no remote. And even if one was lucky to get the Srilankan channel Rupavahini , changing the channel meant that someone has to go to the terrace and change the direction of the TV Antenna to a certain angle and for people below to scream, "Yes, yes. STOP! No, no. Go back! Yes. A bit more. No No. Too much." Im sure its hilarious to hear now but it was one of the most frustrating thing, let me assure you. Coming back to the point, what am I doing wrong?

All good things must come to an end and so did the mango season. Just when I was finishing a whole Rumaani Mango and scraping the seed with my teeth for that last bit of pulp stuck there, my mom announced that that was going to be my last mango for this trip. For a moment, I thought of swallowing that seed whole but the childhood conditioning of how a tree will sprout from my head if I ever swallowed a seed would nt let me do it. Well, theres always the next season I suppose. I can wait.

July 12, 2011

Let He who has never eaten a road side Pani Puri cast the first stone!

Yes, we just swat the flies away and continue to eat the very same food the fly was sitting on a second ago. We remove ants from our tea/coffee and drink it. Not only drink, we even relish it! We dont stop and wonder where the fly was sitting two seconds before it was sitting on our bondas or if the ants marched from the bathroom! We do draw a line when it comes to cockroaches and lizards though! (Only because the critters are too big to ignore!) Ok? Alright? Happy? Now dont roll your eyes! Yes, you! You dared to ask me how I could possibly do such awful stuff? I just smiled and nodded and walked away. All the while I wanted to ask you, "I have never seen you or any member of your family take off your shoes before entering your house. Your child crawls in that house. Your older one drops a biscuit on the floor and picks it up and eats it. Have you ever wondered that the very same shoes you are walking around the house with are the same pair you were wearing when you used the public bathroom earlier in the day?" And dont get me started on public swimming pools! Now, shoo! Go away and let me eat my beach side molaga bajji in peace!

July 10, 2011

Summer Vacation.

As usual, our India trip is going strong. After a wonderful week in Madras where we went to the beach everyday, the kids, my mom and I Ieft for Bangalore while poor Hd had to go back to Zurich. Antu being the appa gondu is missing him quite a bit! The Bangalore trip was to strictly meet my maternal family and friends and we did just that. We stayed in four different places in five days, met dozens of relatives and friends and spent more time in the car than any house! The girls had a wonderful time everywhere. S who left Zurich in April and had nt even settled in Bangalore fully yet dared to invite us to spend a night in her place and Ashu packed her bag even before I said yes! The girls had a sweet reunion and my heart swelled. Antu too seemed to have missed the little boy. So much so that she did nt bully him at all! As far as I know, that is! :) Thanks, S! Whats life without a blog meet? Lovely Art opened her house yet again for a blog meet and it was nice to put a face to many people! My cousin A with her two kids played host one day and I got so nostalgic thinking about all my summer holidays as a kid spent in Bangalore with A playing Amma-Appa games! Where did time go? My two college going nieces were absolutely adorable and the kids stuck to them. I was so tempted to kidnap one of the girls back to Zurich. Perfect baby sitters! :) They also took me with them to watch Dehi Belly! God! What a movie! I cant remember having laughed so much in a theatre in the recent past! A must-see! That reminds me, Hd and I caught Aaranya Kaandam and it was bloody BRILLIANT! I plan to watch both movies again.

Ashu and Antu met so many of their cousins and other friends kids that they were truly overwhelmed and Ashu was giving me the "What the hell are we doing in Zurich?" look all the time! Sigh! After the hectic trip, took a train back home. My parents place, I mean. Phew. The true vacation begins here with nothing to do all day long! Just what I need to recharge my batteries before I board the flight back to Zurich and get into the routine life! Ashu is busy playing Pallankuzhi with her great grandma, hide and seek with her friends, magic tricks with her grandpa, fighting with her sister, arguing with me, going for swim classes and skipping her Tamil tutions with my mom and playing Uno with her instead! I don't see Antu in one place for more than two minutes unless and until shes sleeping. Me? I am sincerely doing the one thing I came here to do braving the summer. Mangoes, ripe mangoes, red mangoes, sweet mangoes!

June 27, 2011


Dear Antu,
As long as we live outside India, your birthday is always going to be in India or in the US, I guess. Just like your first birthday, we are back in India for your third as well! Are nt you a lucky girl to be celebrating amongst your doting Thathas and Paatis? This year, you were truly looking forward for your birthday and even declared, "Amma! I ll blow the candles and you cut the cake, ok?" I know its all your sister's coaching but it sounded so sweet when you said that. Unlike the previous years, I'm shocked that you are only three! Really? You talk more than your sister and some times you even seem to know more than your father and you act like a thirteen year old me! Deadly combination, I tell you! Tone it down, little girl! I want to live long enough to see your kids giving you grey hair! ;)

We had a family dinner get-together yesterday in Madras and you blew the candles and cut the birthday cake surrounded by your grand parents, grand uncles, grand aunts, uncles, aunts, older and younger cousins and especially your great grand mother. This is the best kind of birthday according to me. I felt so loved with so many of the family present and I hope you realize how lucky you are to have had that special day. Ashu was the perfect hostess, as usual! Thank her when you are old enough to understand how much she does for you. It is frustrating to see you take her for granted and manipulate her to get your way in everything but I know its just a phase (correction: loooooooooooong phase!) and later you will worship her and that she ll mean the world to you. Personal experience speaking, of course! So I guess I have to grin and bear.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweetie Pie! Hope you are always surrounded by love like you are today.


Yes, I owe you half a piece of baby corn fry. I should nt have let the Cascade waiter take your plate away when you had nt finished your baby corn fry. But you need not have kept saying,"He took my baby corn!" with an accusing finger pointing to the waiter every time he crossed our table. Before your next birthday, I ll get you a full plate of baby corn fry and will also let you finish it. Deal?
baby growth